Alleluia! Christ is Risen.
This Sunday is one bursting with activity – like the vine branches in our gospel reading bearing much fruit. It is a joy to be welcoming Bishop Geoffrey back to the 9.45 service at St Nicholas and for Canon Christine as his deacon for that service. Her recent installation as a Canon of Chichester recognises the contribution she has made to ecumenism and theological education.
Their visit reminds us of the way in which we, both as individuals and as a Christian community in this place and time, are branches connected with others and abiding in the one true vine. We are each called to bear fruit but also to rejoice in the fruit borne by other branches. As the Nic’s congregation gathers for the monthly all-age worship service at St Nicholas this morning we give thanks for the life that congregation draws from the Messy Church initiative at St Barnabas – and rejoice at the plans developing to have Nic’s on another Sunday in the month too and start a new Messy Church service in Maidenbower.
They’re the kind of examples of our common life that featured in the encouraging visit Archdeacon Fiona made to the parish last week as part of the review of ministry in Crawley and Horsham. The gospel reading also reminds us that fruit-bearing branches need to be pruned in order to stay healthy – something that applies in each of our spiritual lives as well as our common life. No one said it was easy! But, again, we can see the fruit in occasions like this afternoon’s baptisms & confirmations at Worth Abbey (by Bishop Mark) do, please, pray for the 16 candidates and especially the 12 candidates prepared by Steve and myself.